|Image by SORG Rollstuhltechnik GmbH+Co.KG via Wikimedia Commons|
The thing my mom doesn’t understand is that Jason wants to go fast. She’s always yelling at me to slow down because I’ll tip Jason over or get in an accident or something. She always pushes him slow, like they’re at the museum. She says he likes it, but she can’t tell, not really. She’s like forty years older than Jason, but I’m his sister and only two years older, so I should know what a kid wants. A kid wants to go fast.
It’s not like Mom doesn’t like going fast either. In the car, she’s always speeding and slows down only if her radar detector buzzes or if she wants to yell at a really slow car as she passes it. When we go to the amusement parks, I’m always the one that has to wait with Jason while she rides the Crazy Ivan (which isn’t even the fastest rollercoaster in the state anymore). She won’t let me ride on the Crazy Ivan, even though I’m tall enough. She thinks I’ll hurl, but I know I won’t because one time Grandma Prohofsky took me by myself and we rode it together seven times.
Jason would like it too, but Mom doesn’t believe me, which is funny because she knows when Jason is hungry, when he has to use the bathroom, and what his favorite TV show is. That’s pretty good, since Jason can’t talk, or use sign language, or use facial expressions much. See, my brother has this thing wrong with him that keeps him in a wheelchair when we go out. It’s got some name that I can’t ever pronounce right, so I’m not even going to try. But I’m not the only one, because it’s also named after some other guy who got it a long time ago. I can’t remember his name either. It would have been a lot easier if Jason had something like George Washington’s Disease, because everyone could remember that. Plus, they would think that he could be president someday, and they wouldn’t treat him like a retard.
Mom says I’m not supposed to say retard, like me not saying retard will make everyone else stop using it too. I’m also not supposed to tell everyone that Jason will be dead in five years, but that’s not going to stop it from happening either.
Jason gets his picture taken with the quarterback every year at this dinner at the college. He has, like, seven signed footballs sitting in his closet. We have coffee mugs from all the TV news stations in town from when Mom and Jason did their morning shows. Next year, Make-A-Wish is getting him a trip to Disneyworld and we all get to tag along. I’m sure he’ll get a picture with Mickey, though I think he really wants to be one of the pirates.
If it were me, I’d go to Italy and drive a purple Ferrari, but no one asked me. But they wouldn’t let me drive one anyway, because who would let a dying kid drive a Ferrari? What if she died and her whole body fell on the accelerator? Then she’d slump to the side, and the purple Ferrari would turn with her at 200 miles an hour, right into the Vatican. The Pope would not be happy, and he’d make sure you didn’t get into Heaven until your mom and dad fixed everything.
Today, we’re going to a waterpark with a bunch of other families who have kids like Jason. I think Jason would want to go on the waterslides, but Mom says I have to stay with her in the lazy river. The last time we went, my armpits got sore from the inner tubes, and my toes got all scraped up from dragging them on the bottom. Jason gets bored too, because his eyes just stop looking around after a while and he goes all zombie-mode until we get out.
I don’t want to go with the other families because it makes Mom feel bad. She gets nervous around the other parents, and gushes over their kids while getting crabby at me when I tell everyone how much worse Jason has gotten since last year, even though it’s true. She thinks people will get mad, but Jason has, like, permanent invincibility mode. Who gets mad at a kid in a wheelchair? Besides, you’re not allowed to be sad or angry until the drive home, or in your house if you’re carpooling. It’s a dumb rule.
The only good thing about going to the waterpark is that Gabrielle Hofstadter and her sister Lala will be there. Her mom and dad are friends with my mom, so we’ll meet up in the parking lot. Lala is about Jason’s age, and even has the same wheelchair, though it’s red and not blue. Gabrielle and I aren’t best friends, but we get along and like the same kind of pizza. We also know what her sister and my brother need: a race. Last year, we started on three-two-one, except Gabrielle went on two, and I had to dodge a family reunion taking pictures on the sidewalk. We lost by two seconds, and I was grounded for a month, mostly because Jason was giving me that goofy grin of his, and I cracked up while Mom was yelling.
The punishment was worth it then and it will be today, because Jason and I have been training all year and today, we’re gonna win.